Four generations of Americans have now lived with kosher certified food, soap, detergents, food wrap, appliances and more, regardless of their religious faith or whether they even knew that this religious certification enterprise existed. Most consumers likely see the “Kosher” section of an “International Foods” aisle in their supermarkets, and would never imagine that the other fifteen aisles were saturated with kosher certification symbols, usually obscure and small to the typical consumer and never textually displaying the words “KOSHER CERTIFIED” on a label. But the truth is that a preponderance of most shopping carts are filled with kosher certified goods, largely from the number one agency that began it all, that of OU Kosher.
So how did this all begin, and what are we to make of it? If you follow the articles and blogs at www.TheKosherQuestion.com, then you may have come across a brief history of the kosher industry as it pertained to riots in the Lower East Side of New York City in 1902, destructive protests rivaling that of today’s Antifa and BLM, demanding lower costs and honesty in kosher meat markets. This movement was entirely spawned by new immigrants to America, largely fleeing Eastern Europe from what they claimed were persecutions. Now, residing on the land of the free, they embarked on a mission of the brave to regulate and codify the kosher market to meet the needs of Jewry.
But while new laws and regulations helped with the authenticity and economics of what constituted “kosher,” the industrialization of the food industry made matters more impractical for the Jewish community, as assessing food production facilities and the contents inside modern packaging (e.g. canned goods) resulted in new problems. As technology marches forward, humanity loses more and more freedom. Such is the conundrum dealt with by philosophers of technology like David Skrbina, Ph.D., who look deeper into how all this progress affects us all. But look at one of Skrbina’s subjects to get a closer peek at the relationship between food and technology: Theodore Kaczinski [from his diary January 21, 1978]; “[M]odern society probably gives me better assurance of food supply than I could give myself as a primitive hunter-gatherer. But that’s beside the point. As a primitive I would have the right to deal with the problem myself and make my own decisions regarding it. As it is, the system makes all the decisions for me and I can do nothing about it.” [our emphasis]
Were the advances in technology the coup de grâce for the Jewish followers of Kashrus, the dietary laws of Judaism? Had they lost their freedom to inspect the contents of the packaged food they bought or make decisions as to how their food was produced? The answer would come in 1923 when the Heinz Corporation began cooperating with the rabbinical staff of Orthodox Union to produce the first mass kosher-certified vegetarian beans. Very gradually more and more corporations contracted with kosher agencies who oversaw the ingredients, the machinery, and the processing of the food they produced, stamping a hekhsher (i.e. kosher seal) on the label to signify its kosher status. The promotion of this practice created an entirely new industry, one that grew almost like an elaborate pyramid scheme since producers of kosher raw ingredients were rewarded when food with numerous ingredients required kosher certified sources. The rabbis were now in control, applying and reinterpreting their ancient religious laws from Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the Talmud, building their database, and training more mashgichim. A decade later, the secret ingredients of Coca Cola were shared with a rabbi, who changed it so that this most popular soda could also receive a kosher seal. And by the Fifties, kosher certification reached enough products, both edible and inedible, that some outside the Jewish community began to notice.
A 1954 speech given by Mrs. Marian Strack of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented the first challenge to the burgeoning kosher certification practice at a Trenton, NJ, DAR conference. But what was the objection? Her boldest part of the speech was as follows, and it drew a great deal of public criticism in the press: “Clandestine Kosher markings on canned goods symbolize how a bold minority can impose its will and even its religious observances upon an apathetic majority.” And she was correct in using the term ‘clandestine’, as very few consumers today can recognize the ubiquitous certification seal of OU Kosher after nearly a century. In fact, research studies have shown that kosher seals have minimal transparency, averaging just one tenth the size of all those other seals found on packaging.
But what Marian Strack noticed and feared for above the naivety of her fellow DAR members and critics was that the system was steadily changing the culture of America towards the needs of a tiny minority instead of assimilating the tiny minority into Americans. A 1966 newspaper article, “The ‘In’ World of Kosher Food,” featured Rabbi Alexander S. Rosenberg of the OU Kosher Certification Service admitting that “THE SYMBOL was devised to indicate the products that have been certified kosher in an unobtrusive way that would not offend the sensibilities of other faiths.” [our emphasis] The rabbi continues: “While the ‘U’ is small and unobtrusive, it nevertheless has drawn vilification from certain people whom Rabbi Rosenberg has termed ‘the lunatic fringe’…”
That newspaper article from 1966 was most certainly a response to the testimony from a leader of the KKK in a House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings, where this leader had “financed literature aimed at exposing ‘the kosher food racket.’” The article was clearly framing the kosher industry in a positive light by using the phrase “The ‘In’ World” in its title, but the article also framed anyone who counters kosher labeling as “the lunatic fringe,” someone who could now be linked to the KKK. As time moved on, the ADL would continue using the same strategy with its internet article The Kosher Tax Hoax: A Recipe for Hate.
Let us pause for a moment to summarize what had evolved: 1) a small group of religiously devout immigrants found dishonesty and criminal wrongdoing surrounding a kosher meat market; 2) rioting ensues; 3) new laws and regulations are created for small group, 4) industrial technology further complicates the kosher status of food; 5) the small group contracts with the food processors to certify their products; 6) this results in food processing technology then conforming to the dictates of the small group to support their religious observance; 7) the small group purposely obscures the technological scheme; 8) critical thinkers and observers of out-groups examine this barely transparent business ;9) critical thinkers in support of out-group interests, especially religious or economic, are at first labeled “lunatic fringe”, and as time goes on, “haters” and “anti-Semites” by the system.
Deception typically involves causing others to accept something that is invalid to be valid. When Orthodox Union’s Rabbi Rosenberg in 1966 stated that its kosher symbol was “devised…in an unobtrusive way that would not offend the sensibilities of other faiths,” he was in one way being honest that they put some thought into the design of this kosher seal. He was also honest that their seal was “small” when found on labels. But he was also deceiving the public as to their intent when suggesting that the seal was small so as to be unobtrusive (i.e., not blatant or aggressive). For what could be more obtrusive and “offend [people] of other faiths” than to impose its minority religious laws on the free food market of an entire population? In truth, they made deliberate efforts to hiding or obscuring their activities, making their certification seal difficult to notice or understand so that few people outside their small in-group would follow their scheme as it grew nationally and internationally. For who in 1923, 1954, 1966, or even 2021 would readily know that the small letter “U” within a circle on a label would indicate a kosher status?
The deception (the obscure symbol) was set to progress within the system, and a healthy dose of self-deception buttressed its ethical and moral standing, Rabbi Rosenberg likely believing “We are not offending the sensibilities of other faiths.” This framework of deception and self-deception has been theorized “as mechanisms for furthering evolutionary goals.…Self-deceiving individuals are able to present an appearance of trustworthiness and sincerity and to believe their own rationalizations.” Well what better means of promoting that trustworthy, sincere appearance than getting the message out in a well-controlled newspaper article titled “The ‘In’ World of Kosher Food”?
Let’s look closer at self-deception in the kosher world. We have shown OU’s earlier admittance that they were purposely designing their kosher seal to be small. But 55 years later some of our supporters would share with us responses from OU Kosher as they complained that the seal was “too small.” Their Marketing Director replied “As is the norm in the kosher industry, we cannot control if, where or how large a company uses our symbol on their packaging.” This is a fascinating statement, given all the contractual stipulations and even surprise inspections that are involved in this industry. It might be more accurate to say that they are deceiving themselves that they can’t mandate a minimum size for their ubiquitous seal and can’t insist that “KOSHER CERTIFIED” be stamped next to or around the hekhsher. But while the OU Marketing Director makes bold statements like “we cannot control any aspect of the kosher seal,” is there an evolutionary instinct driving her into self-deception, knowing that the kosher certification industry has evolved into a mega-money making business that supports her community, her people’s interests?
Another supporter of ours may have provided the answer. Recently, he wrote the same agency with specific questions challenging them on the unusually small OU Kosher seal found on Cascade dishwashing detergent while also inquiring as to how they felt ethically or morally about the deceptive nature towards non-Jews in this matter (He asked “Why do you wrap your Twitter avatar with ‘KOSHER CERTIFICATION SERVICES’ but display no similar textual descriptor on the actual food labels?”). And after much evasiveness, she finally professed, “To simplify your extremely detailed [questions], most kosher consumers worldwide recognize the OU Kosher symbol as a mark of trust and recognition. We have never had the need to add anything additional as a descriptor and most of our certified companies are quite content with the symbol and what it represents for their business.”
Assuming she believes this, do you see the self-deception? Our supporter specifically brought up his concern for the consumer who is NOT a kosher-keeper, but all this marketing director could care about was “most kosher consumers worldwide.” She had an automatic suppression of how others might feel, a lack of introspection because if anyone objected based on religious freedom, economics, fair financial disclosures, or just truth in labeling, they have been relegated to (allow us to repeat) “the lunatic fringe” of “haters”, “extremists”, and “anti-Semites.” It’s all about her community — her community only. That is why she evaded detailed answers. The whole point is to keep the entire scheme on the down-low.
In fact, other consumer critics have written kosher agencies and received similarly vague, selfish responses like: “Our company’s financial information is confidential,” “Kosher certification is not regulated by any authority,” “As kosher certification is a sensitive area, we try not dictate,” and “We can only recommend to our customers where and how to display the OU Kosher symbol.” And from manufacturers: “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide the information you requested,” “We pay a standard annual fee,” “We are not allowed to discuss this,” “the OU symbol [without any KOSHER text] meets our standards,” “OU standards align well with our company mission and values,” “We do not track [how many patrons are kosher keepers],” “A great deal of thought goes into the artwork that goes on our limited package space,” and “the way it’s currently displayed is in line with the guidance for use of the symbol.” Neither the kosher agency nor big corporations are willing to detail what that specific guidance is.
Perhaps when self-deception becomes so grossly ingrained into a culture and a system, it is transformed into delusion. In the field of psychology, delusion is a persistent false psychotic belief regarding self and others outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, and it can involve tricking or deceiving others.
For nearly one hundred years, the kosher agencies and complicit corporations have deceived consumers on kosher seals while concealing their detailed financials. The stakeholders tied to this religious enterprise are delusional in their belief that all angles of this service are beyond reproach. So why do kosher agencies hide the detailed truth while at the same time receiving extremely generous IRS privileges such as tax-exemption and disclosure-free financials? Dr. Kevin MacDonald, a leader in evolutionary psychology, explains that “[T]ruth is not a requirement for the effectiveness of the rationalizations, apologia, and self-deceptions so central to maintaining positive images of the Jewish in-group throughout history.” Indeed, while the kosher certification industry may only be a recent historical phenomenon, it certainly is reflective of the Jewish in-group, and, according to the theory in his book Separation And Its Discontents, it must now be maintained for its important role in supporting Jewish evolutionary group success.
After four years of persistent researching into the kosher certification industry, we can firmly say that there is a dense firewall keeping the truth from within our reach. And then we read this:
“The OU prides itself in our level of transparency. The more the public is aware of kashrut, the more they will demand, which helps us up our game. We welcome that scrutiny.” — Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of OU Kosher
If the rabbi really believes this, it’s a prime example of self-deception given how opaque the kosher industry is when it comes to sharing financial data. Moreover, unless he’s strictly talking to his kosher consumer base, his delusion is extremely offensive to the non-Jew who doesn’t keep kosher and seeks out answers. We have documented Israeli reports of extortion-racket systems related to kosher certification in Jerusalem, controversial remarks made by professionals from the International Food Safety & Quality Network (IFSQN) regarding questionable kosher supervisors, the New York Daily News literally calling the business a mafia run by “Kosher Cops”. We also have performed a substantial amount of surveys and research on the subject-matter. We know that about 39% of consumers do not want religious intervention in the production of their food, but still we cannot get honest answers. We know that 19% of shoppers on top of the 39% want higher transparency in this area, but instead we are not dealt with in good faith! We are not privy to the information we need and deserve.
A small group took to overseeing an entire free market of sustenance, first by deception, backed by self-deception, and sealed with bad faith. While many of us tolerate ubiquitous kosher certification today, we must be wary of the technocratic power that such a blending of religion and technology may present, as Canadian author Suzanne Bousquet has warned the reading public in her book From Kosher to Halal that the sneakiness, the politics, and the associated greed of this enterprise pose a threat to Western Civilization.
So while the masses are not yet protesting against kosher certification, and while we tolerate the escalating supremacy of it all with gracious permissiveness, take this time to ponder and reflect on the sanctioned business of a “persecuted” people: Has kosher certification been absorbed into the system, or is the system kosher-certified?
Dr. Andrew Joyce, a scholar of Jewish Studies and staunch advocate for Europeans, might rebuke Ms. Bousquet’s comments with a starker taste of reality: “We no longer have a Civilization, but a System that is killing us as a people. And we shouldn’t defend the System in the illusion that we’re defending Civilization. Modern understandings of the West (civic, commercial, atomistic, ‘open’, diverse) poison and deracinate us.”
Perhaps the time is overdue for Dr. David Skrbina to coin a new techno-philosophical term, for are we all not living in Kosher Delusion?
 “Women Resume Riots Against Meat Shops” – The New York Times, May 18, 1902, p.3
 Plural of “mashgiach”; an observant Jew who supervises the status of Kashrus in a food production plant or food establishment; a Kosher supervisor
 “The ‘In’ World of Kosher Food” by Leonard Sloan, Tampa Bay Times, March 26, 1966. p.48
 Separation And Its Discontents, by Dr. Kevin MacDonald, p.247 (Praeger Publishers, 1998)
 “The best deceivers are self-deceivers because they do not show any psychological tensions or feelings of ambivalence.” – Trivers, R. L. (1985) Social Evolution. Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, CA; (1991) Deceit and self-deception: The relationship between communication and consciousness. In: M. Robinson and L. Tiger (eds.) Man and Beast Revisited, Smithsonian, Washington, DC, pp. 175–191.
 Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of “Delusion”
 Separation And Its Discontents by Dr. Kevin MacDonald, p.16
 “Jewish self-deception touches on a variety of issues, including personal identity, the causes and extent of anti-Semitism, the characteristics of Jews (e.g., economic success), and the role of Jews in the political and cultural process in traditional and contemporary societies.”, SAID, p. 248; “Evolutionists have shown considerable interest in deception and self-deception as mechanisms for furthering evolutionary goals…Self-deceiving individuals are able to present an appearance of trustworthiness and sincerity and to believe their own rationalizations.” SAID, p. 247
 https://oukosher.org/passover/articles/on-a-mission-to-educate/; In a reply made to one of our supporters, the OU Marketing Director stated the following: “We do have complete transparency when it comes to Kashrut, but when it comes to the use of the OU symbol and its trademark, that becomes a legal issue, both for marketing and Kashrut uses”
 IFSQN Forum: “All the rabbis know each other…it’s like a mafia. You pay a lot of money for the kosher symbol…Rabbis and the Kosher certifiers can be “swayed”…if you know what I mean. Also, they like clients who are generous with their products” – Ryan M 8/16/2019
 “They operate like the mafia,” Forster said. “If they pull your hechsher (kosher certification), you are screwed. They tell other places not to give you a hechsher.” – https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-metro-kosher-restaurant-comic-20181209-story.html
 Keeping in mind the following: “It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness” – Industrial Society And Its Future by Theodore John Kaczynski